- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 30, 2008

As the new year of 2008 is well under way, and in keeping with Sun Tsu’s admonition that we take care to “Know the Enemy” — and even the potential enemy — we would do well to decide what truthful labels to apply to the increasingly assertive and even confrontational Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

Is he merely a competitor and an adversary, or is he deliberately and with imperialist aforethought leading Russia into a Cold War II-style alliance with such “Death to America” characters as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, Fidel Castro of Cuba and Hugo Chavez of “Cubazuela” — all of whom are already firmly allied with each other?

Making a small but significant start in answering this question was the Dec, 15, 2007, Wall Street Journal editorial, titled “The perils of Putinism.” But despite the wealth of worrisome information and thoughtful analysis it imparted, neither the Journal’s excellent editorial nor any others in the media or in academia since then have suggested a proper ideological label for this outgoing — but still fully and ever more firmly in control — Russian leader who, after eight years in office, is not permitted by the Russian Constitution to succeed himself.

In true “strongman” fashion, he is anointing his longtime aide,Dmitry Medvedev, as his successor to the presidency — who will then obligingly appoint Mr. Putin as prime minister, de facto co-president, heir apparent and eventual “re-successor” in turn.

Seldom if ever has the political term “merry-go-round” been more appropriate to a case of power brokerage and electoral manipulation, with global implications for better or for worse likely for many decades to come.

To date, both the media and the think-tank academic community limit themselves to relatively soft, tentative and wait-and-see labels. They call the man neither a communist nor a fascist, neither a democrat nor a dictator, neither a right-winger nor a left-winger — but only an authoritarian, a boss, an autocrat, a strongman or some other slightly negative (and slightly right-wing) label that does not speak clearly of the man’s lockstep-Left ideology.

Based on the strong appearance (a) that Comrade Putin remains to the core a KGB-trained communist (who was until recently still toasting “the memory of Dzugashvili,” which was Comrade Stalin’s real name) — and (b) that he clearly wants to become Russia’s de facto czar (i.e., president for life, Russian-style), the most suitable labels for this increasingly dangerous manipulator would be “communoid” (meaning communist-like) and, of course, “commie-czar.

Ironically, the latter is virtually the same title that Vladimir Lenin assumed 90 years ago when, by force of arms and clamor in the streets, he rudely replaced Alexander Kerensky as “chief commissar” of what was still the Provisional Government of Russia — reshuffled and largely co-opted but not actually deposed.

A Bit of Truth in History: Grandiosely and falsely renamed the “Great October Revolution” some years later, this only partially successful coup was followed on Nov. 25, 1917, by free, multiparty elections for a long-awaited (and now long-forgotten) All-Russian Constituent Assembly.

In these elections, which Chief Commissar Lenin tried unsuccessfully to delay in order to attempt their outright cancellation in due course — his unpopular Bolsheviks won only 24-plus percent of the seats in a West European-style parliament which they finally, at gunpoint, forced into recess (permanently, as it turned out) in a second and ultimately successful coup d’etat in the early morning hours of Jan. 19, 1918.

By contrast, Commie-czar Putin’s revanchist supporters (yearning for the Soviet Union’s superpower glories of yore) seem now, not at gunpoint this time but by every other “hook and crook” imaginable, to have won not a measly 24 percent of the seats but a whopping 64 percent of the votes for seats in today’s Russian parliament — which would seem to entitle their clear-and-present-danger leader to the title of “supercommie-czar.”

Long ago expunged: True to their strong leanings in this regard, Comrade Putin and his inner circle of KGB and GRU alums have given no mention, no historical remembrance whatever, to the recent 90th anniversaries of both (a) the long-awaited Jan. 18, 1918, convening and (b) the long-forgotten Jan. 19, 1918, dissolution — by political partial-birth abortion less than 24 hours later — of the democratically elected All-Russian Constituent Assembly mentioned above.

It was this latter tragedy of anti-democracy, long ago expunged from the historical record, that finally led to the Soviet tyranny headed for many decades by the fascist-Left likes of Vladimir Lenin, Josef Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev, Leonid Brezhnev, Yuri Andropov and others — to whom Mr. Putin still demonstrates a loyalty, an affinity and in Stalin’s case a toast “in remembrance of.”

Finally, a major truth-in-language benefit of both the communoid and the commie-czar labels will be to keep Comrade Putin and his Kremlin entourage forever on the Left end of the political spectrum — rather than allow the media, the academics and foreign policy elite to move them, should they become police-state repressives, to the so-called “fascist-Right” end.

To the extent these communoids eventually come to merit the ugly “fascist” label — which one hopes they will not — it should clearly be that of the “fascist-Left,” where such other modern-day Putin favorites as Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also dwell in a crusading spirit of “Death to America.”

If this is too harsh a judgment about Comrade Putin’s policies and propensities, he has every opportunity to prove this Cold War II assessment as dead wrong as it currently appears to be deadly correct.

Jim Guirard is founder and president of the TrueSpeak Institute in Alexandria, Va.

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